First Solar to sell 20MW Ontario PV project to Enbridge; solar company also joins S&P 500

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First Solar and Enbridge have signed a deal for the Canadian energy company to buy a 20MW solar farm that the PV firm has developed and is building near Sarnia, Ontario. The project, which will be the largest PV installation in Canada when it’s completed by the end of the year, is being built by First Solar under a fixed-price engineering, procurement, and construction contract and will use more than 370,000 of the company’s CdTe thin-film modules.

First Solar said it will also provide operations and maintenance services under a long-term contract. The power output of the facility (seen in above photo under construction earlier this year) will be sold to the Ontario Power Authority under the terms of a 20-year power purchase agreement pursuant to the Ontario Government’s Renewable Energy Standard Offer Program. Subject to certain conditions, Enbridge may participate with First Solar in future solar energy projects at the Sarnia site.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed; First says it did not recognize revenue from the project in the third quarter.

“This agreement is the first that realizes the value of the OptiSolar project development pipeline that we acquired in April,” said First Solar’s president, Bruce Sohn. “First Solar’s project development and engineering, procurement, and construction capabilities have enabled us to complete over 65% of the 20MW project in less than three months.”

“As society and governments increasingly accept green energy, we believe that solar energy represents meaningful opportunities for long-term growth. The Sarnia Solar Project is right in the sweet spot of Enbridge’s renewable energy strategy,” added Patrick Daniel, president/CEO of Enbridge, which is Canada’s largest gas distribution company. “It has risk-and-return characteristics which are fully consistent with Enbridge’s low-risk business model, and similar to our crude-oil pipeline business. At the same time it represents a further step toward our corporate goal of a neutral environmental footprint.

“In 2009, Enbridge’s investment in solar energy will be approximately C$100 million,” he continued. “We plan to continue to invest in further renewable energy investments which have similar risk and return characteristics, including potential additional investments in Ontario.”

In other news, First Solar has been named to the Standard and Poor’s 500, making it the first pure-play solar company to be added to the prestigious stock index. First replaces pharmaceutical company Wyeth, which is being acquired by Pfizer.

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